Toggle Contrast

Running a national research trial

Carlene Parchment, trial manager for the RM Partners FIT study for bowel cancer, talks about her work.

Carlene Parchment, NICE FIT trial manager

Knowing that bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in the UK, and if found early there is a better chance that it can be treated successfully, amplified my interest to be part of something so ground-breaking.

To say I was extremely pleased when I got offered the job as Trial Manager for the RM Partners NICE FIT study at Croydon University Hospital would be an understatement. Once I understood FIT’s aims and objectives I was fully on board.

Currently there are no non-invasive means of determining if a patient’s symptoms are due to bowel cancer, and so they are referred by their GP for further investigations, such as a colonoscopy.

The study is investigating whether FIT (the faecal immunochemical test) – a simple one-off stool test that can be carried out in the comfort of patients’ homes – can potentially be used to effectively rule out bowel cancer in patients with symptoms, reducing the need for unnecessary colonoscopies.

NICE FIT currently has 51 sites and we have already recruited over 11,000 patients. I am responsible for overseeing the setting up of sites and making sure that they are compliant with all the required policies and governance. I also provide reports or updates about the trial sites’ activities to various committees as required, deliver training coupled with ongoing troubleshooting guidance, as well as provide support and management to research staff, both locally and at our trial sites.

I really look forward to the site visits that I make. There are very different reasons for each visit, from confirming adherence the NICE FIT study protocol to providing support and feedback to the local team. On a site visit I might get asked if the data they provide to the FIT team are being done correctly; if we ever receive any feedback from patients using the kit, or simply whether or not there is anything that they need to do differently or to improve on. It also provides an opportunity for me to share what the data shows for patients, what are the next steps for FIT, how will it be implemented and what FIT means for their patients and GP practices.

It also provides me with an opportunity to thank them for all of their efforts. Without their interest and participation we would not have achieved the level of success we have so far. FIT is the study with the highest number of patients recruited nationally on the NICHR Clinical Research Network portfolio, and placed first in the Croydon Health Services Research Day competition.

The success of FIT is also due to my supportive Chief Investigator, Consultant Colorectal Surgeon Mr Muti Abulafi, the RM Partners Research and Development Manager Dr Michelle Chen, the Research and Development team at Croydon and the fantastic FIT research team that I work with. To be honest it could not have been achieved without them.

While it has been hard work managing a national study of this magnitude, I feel very proud of the fact that it has done so well and I have enjoyed every minute. Making the decision to take this project on is one of the best I have made in my career.